As an introvert, it can be easy to brush off community and networking, even as an entrepreneur. You have your close circle and that’s all you need, after all! But there is SO much more that comes with community than just making friends, especially when you’re an entrepreneur.
What does community provide introverted entrepreneurs?
Okay, let’s talk about what YOU can get out of community as an introverted entrepreneur. I know it’s not easy to plug in and put yourself out there when prolonged human interaction can feel draining, but keep an open mind!
Community provides like-minded support networks
It can be hard to be an entrepreneur! Yes, the world is moving more towards independent workers, but it’s still very much entrenched in employees around much of the globe. Think about it: in your circle of friends, how many ‘get it’? They are (hopefully) supportive, sure, but there’s a difference between being supportive and being able to talk shop.
That’s part of the beauty of having an entrepreneurial community: you can create a new circle of folks who GET IT. Who are in the thick of it, who understand your struggles and your triumphs. Scheduling a month’s worth of authentic Instagram posts may sound like a weird triumph to your ‘regular’ friends, but your entrepreneurial community will totally understand!
Community gives you new ideas
Oh man, new ideas are one of the best aspects of entrepreneurial communities! You’re surrounded by other people who think in ways that the typical employee-mindset person doesn’t. You start talking with someone else in your business community and suddenly you’re getting lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment – and so are they!
Just by talking with others in these communities, you can get breakthrough ideas for your business. You don’t even have to expend too much introvert energy, either – you can hop on one-on-one calls or just browse your favorite Facebook groups for inspiration!
Community helps solve problems
Have you ever been stumped and not sure where to go next with something in your business? Maybe you felt like you’d run out of clients and you weren’t sure where to turn. Or maybe your marketing strategy just wasn’t working and you couldn’t figure out why.
If you ask your friends or family, they might have a few words of wisdom, but it’s hard to give constructive feedback when you aren’t in the same world, career-wise. Bringing your struggles to the entrepreneurial community means that you have a group of people who know where you’re coming from and have probably been there at some point or will be there soon too. They can help talk you out of the corner and give you some new paths to explore, all while knowing that when they’re in the same position, you’ll be there for them too.
Community boosts your business growth
Beyond giving you new ideas and helping you solve problems, community can boost your business growth. The obvious one is referrals, but there’s so much more that community can provide to introverted entrepreneurs!
Even as an introvert, you probably still crave a few relationships. Your entrepreneurial community (both online and off) has some AMAZING fellow entrepreneurs in it, guaranteed. If you plug in, even just a little bit, you can make those connections and create lasting relationships with the people who you click with. Your community may also provide training and resources to help you take your business to the next level – something we all need at some point!
Different strokes for different folks (and communities!)
Let’s be real: there’s a scale of introversion. You might be on the hermit end of the scale or you might be on the nearly-ambivert side of that scale. Wherever you fall on it, that’s okay – that’s YOU. But knowing how much interaction you want and need as an introvert is key. Different types of communities can serve different needs!
Mix up your community types
For example, you might be part of an online community like a Facebook group as well as a once-a-month in-person networking group. The Facebook group could be where you lurk when you’re ‘peopled out’ and need to recharge while still networking and then you can use the monthly group to make local connections that don’t tax your interaction fuel tank too much.
Whatever your comfort level is, don’t be afraid to push it just a little bit and see how far you can go. If you push a bit too far, you can always take a step back. If you don’t push far enough, though, you may limit yourself and your business. Experiment with different types of communities and see what fits best!
Mix up your community sizes
Sometimes you need small groups and sometimes you can be a wallflower in larger groups. It’s all good! You can meet your needs for both interaction and business/personal growth in different ways. Something to also keep in mind is that larger groups can still yield more manageable small groups or one-on-one meetups.
You might go to a large meeting like a conference or even just a larger networking event and make a couple of connections there. Those connections can bring in a couple of their own business friends and you can form your own small group community! Get creative with your community sizes and see where it can take you.
Find your community ‘level’ as an introvert
There are different ‘levels’ of introversion, so there are different levels of communities that each introvert can handle. Don’t feel like you have to measure up to anyone else! You may even be surprised at who’s an introvert and who’s not. (There are, after all, shy extroverts and exuberantly outgoing introverts!) You just need to know your own introversion levels so you can manage them.
Figure out your introvert community tolerance level
If you’re an outgoing introvert, you may thrive on in-person interactions on a limited basis. If you’re a shy introvert, you may be more apt to stay quiet unless you have something important to say. Whatever your zone is, learn to use it to your advantage!
Regulate your community interaction as an introvert
Building on the last point, you can regulate your community interaction to match your introversion level. If you’re shy and quiet, you can build a reputation of being the person that should be listened to when they say something because it’s probably something that matters. If you’re more outgoing, you could become the person who’s awesome to have one-on-one meetings with, but who only takes so many meetings at a time, so you could become sought after. Whatever it is, make it work for YOU!
Find the communities that work best for YOU
Speaking of making it work for you… you need to find the right communities. Test out a bunch of Facebook groups and ditch the ones that are spammy or just not a good vibe for you personally. Visit some local networking and business groups and see where you make the best connections. (Even the paid networking groups usually allow visitors for a limited number of times before you have to join.) Once you find the communities that mesh with you, make the most of them!
Even if you’re an introvert, community is still important, especially as an entrepreneur. Learning how community can benefit you and your business and figuring out how to get the most out of it (while still building in as well!) is key. Once you learn how you best interact with community and how much community interaction you can handle based on how much of an introvert you are, you may be surprised at how much you love it!
Leave a comment with your thoughts on community for introverted entrepreneurs! Here are some ideas:
What is something that’s surprised you as an introverted entrepreneur?
If you’re an extrovert, how can you make introverts feel more welcome in the communities you’re a part of?
As an introvert, how can you push yourself – without going too far – to get involved in community?